Aug 08

Outside interests

In addition to our various ‘day jobs’, Sam and I also maintain a number of outside interests including various catering engagements.

Some time ago, Sam began helping with the staff and artist catering backstage at the Cambridge Folk Festival. A couple years ago I joined her for the first time and we were back there again this year. While some of the backstage crew are ‘professional’ (in that they travel around all the festivals doing lighting, sound, etc) most are loyal to the Cambridge Folk Festival and only meet once a year.

Everything starts about a week before the music begins with rigging marquees, setting the infrastructure to cope with the influx over the weekend. We pitched up on Wed when Sam began serving egg & bacon butties from ‘Bob’s Country Bunker’ (a porta-cabin with a hotplate, grill, fridge, and not much else by way of catering equipment). By the end of the day the main catering Marquee was full of the cookers, fryers, hot plates, storage, boilers and serving equipment that is a functioning kitchen; including the kitchen sink! A walk-in fridge and a separate walk-in freezer kept everything nicely chilled, whatever the temperature in the kitchen.

Our routine was then 6am (breakfast served from 7am) until 10pm (last dinner serving at 8pm but people always turned up late); either preparing, cooking, serving, or cleaning up. At it’s peak we served 438 for Sunday dinner in just over 4 hrs (including stragglers).

It wasn’t all hard work. There are four ‘gators’ (4 or 6 wheel drive buggies) that are used to transport the heavier bits of equipment around the site. Tradition is that on the Sunday they hold a fancy dress parade with each of the gators being ‘decorated’ by the Sparky’s (electricians), security, stewards, and artist hospitality teams.

Apologies for the ‘sideways’ view, Qik doesn’t seem to let me rotate the image.

We were also blessed with the. best. toilets. ever.

Update:- someone has asked and no the music isn’t post-production, its piped from the black loudspeaker you can see beside the fluffy hand towel. Without smell-o-vision you can’t tell but the hand-wash was a fragrant lavender.

It’s also worth noting that these are on a trailer, just like other portable loos (only posher)! 🙂

It isn’t all festival food.

My sister was also over recently from Boston with my newly born Niece (7 months old) for her Christening at Mum’s local church. Sam did the cake and constructed the baby from Marzipan & icing, and the lettered bricks from icing blocks and letters piped individually to spell out “Evangaline” and individual “e”s on each of the 70 cupcakes.

cake

baby
Aug 12

Cambridge Folk Festival 2008

Photo by Clare Borley

Photo by Clare Borley

The Cambridge Folk Festival might be a strange topic for this blog, but it is a function I have been working for the past sixteen years!  Most people attend events such as this to watch great bands performing live.  They get to enjoy the atmosphere and attempt to dance between the rain drops. I however am there to work!  Obviously many people are there to work; security, general helping staff, vendors, bar staff, stage hands, electricians, gas engineers, not to mention the performers, but as it is often said an army marches on its stomach.  That is where I come in……

I meet up with a select team of people each year under Bob the chef as part of the ‘Quintessential Cuisine’ team tasked with providing food for the “Staff and Artists”.  This merry band of 5 produce breakfast, lunch and evening meals for 2000 people over a four day period.  I am part of this team, but I also specifically look after the artists and their riders.

A contract rider includes specifications on stage design, sound systems, lighting rigs, as well as an artist’s wish list-from transportation and billing to dressing room accommodations and meals. At some festivals, a promoter will refuse a demand (crossing out the request on the document), but at Cambridge the stars usually get what they want, whether it’s new black cotton soaks, or a box full of fruit so they can prepare their own smoothies.

So I spend considerable amount of time preparing special meals for some artists and vast numbers of sandwiches and deli platers for others.  What this does mean is that when the rest of the catering team are not working I am in the kitchen trying to get on top of things so that when the main rush hits, I can help out with the staff meals and coordinating service times.

This break from the routine of health/clinical psychology and research analysis is wonderful.  As a qualified chef, preparing food is a careful balance of colours, flavours, textures and presentation not to mention getting it on the table in time (no mean feat when you’re basically working on a camping gas stove).  I also experience a whole different side of humanity.

It essence it keeps me fresh and if you’re not going away on holiday then a change is as good as a rest!